Access & Environment Report(s) November, (Sept & Oct)

My apologies. It has been a seriously busy couple of months at the Access officer desk. Whilst I have been getting all information needed out via social media platforms such as Facebook and forums, I have neglected to post the monthly report. So this is a bumper post that includes my regular report that gets published in Argus

Posted latest report to the earliest, this is mainly for reference purpose and some of the issues have now changed status so will update in a new post shortly. Hmm, if I could just have a few more hours in the day….

It has taken a while, but for the most part, many of the climbing areas previously out of bounds because of the Victoria Range fires are now accessible. Much of the access did hinge on the roads being closed and the listed roads below are now open which means that any of the cliffs accessible from them are open for climbing. Red Rock Road is still closed while it undergoes some final work but hopefully reopening shouldn’t be too far off. You are still able to access the cliffs along that road though by walking in from the Anderson Road intersection.

The cliffs in the Camp of the Emu Foot track area are still out of bounds. This particular area was burnt the worst and the ground really needs time to recover before it is opened to any kind of foot traffic. These cliffs include Eureka Wall, Lost World, Red Sail, Weirs Creek.

Rather than listing every single cliff that is open, the roads and walking tracks below will govern what is open for climbing. If you are not sure, drop me a line and I will let you know

The following roads, walking tracks and visitor sites are now open:
Harrops Track
Billywing Road
Syphon Road
Northern end of Sawmill Track
Victoria Range Track
Goat Track
Buandik Camping Ground and Picnic area
Fortress walking track
Ingleton Springs Picnic area
Glenelg River Road
Chimney Pots Walking Track

The following walking tracks and roads will remain closed until further works are completed:
Billimina walking track
Red Rock Road (you can access cliffs on Red Rock road by parking and walking in from Andersons Road)
Matthews Track
Strachans Campground
Manja Walking track

Just in before Argus sent to printers so have no time or space to add anything further. Keep an eye on the CliffCare and VCC site but please read up and send your comments in. If this goes through, it will mean paying a lot more for camping. In my opinion excessively so! NOTE: Information on this will be added to a new post in the next day or two but PLEASE read up and make your comment submission if you are able to as soon as possible. We really need as many people responding as possible.

Victorian National Parks Camping and Accommodation Fees – Regulatory Impact Statement.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has released a proposal for a user-pays approach to charges for camping and roofed accommodation in parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria. The new approach is designed to help fund ongoing maintenance and services to ensure that people can continue to enjoy these special places well into the future. Victorians are invited to provide comment on the regulatory impact statement by 22 November 2013.

For more information go to


CLIFFCARE – 2012/2013 AGM Report

The last year has been an eventful but progressive and successful year for CliffCare.
Onground projects:
Working Bees –
Pharos Gully Repair Project – 5
You Yangs Boneseed Rip it Up day -1
Grampians Vic Range Fire Recovery – 5 attempts and 1 working bee for multiple areas.
Climbing Area Access Negotiations
You Yangs – After discussions with Parks Victoria at the You Yangs, a number of changes to restrictions were implented:
The Sunday closure to climbers on Big Rock has been removed.
The permanent seasonal closure of sites on the east of Flinders Peak from August to November was removed.
Particularly exciting though was the reopening of The Lookout at the You Yangs which had been closed to climbing for approximately 25 years.
Arapiles – Camp fee dispute, negotiations and successful outcome
Summerday Valley Repair Project – $
Arapiles Climbing Forum Display – $1,100
A successful partnership with the Banff and Radical Reels film festival running the bar as a fundraising and promotional exposure event. This is a partnership that will be continuing and goes a long way to help fund the projects and costs of CliffCare. It provides a great opportunity for the community to learn more about CliffCare, how it is run and the importance of it for continued access to the cliffs.
New CliffCare logo. Took a little while to get off the ground but CliffCare now has it’s own logo which will hopefully spread the word further out into the climbing community.
Future and Ongoing projects:
Arapiles 50th Anniversary Climbing Forum – Nati Frinj/Cup weekend 2013
Commercial climbing and the community – Bridging the Divide
Summerday Valley Repair Project


Following a very successful workday in the Victoria Range on the 24th August, I am pleased to let everyone know that we are able to access a few of the areas. First up, though, I must thank the 26 people that rocked up on a perfect working bee weather day. (This was about the 5th attempt to get this day off the ground). We had a great selection of people with the local Halls Gap crew, Nati crew, Melbourne and Warrnambool volunteers. Big thanks also to Ross and Simon from Vertical Life/Adventure Types for getting the word out in their circles and helping with providing info. The team I work with at Parks Victoria and Claire being there on the day once again proved the great working relationship we have with them. Please remember that these areas have been impacted by fire. While they may have been the least damaged of the climbing areas, there are sections that have still been quite badly burnt, so extra care really does need to be taken. Don’t go in with large groups, really keep an eye on the track markings such as tape, cairns and delineation. Just be a little more vigilant about keeping to the one track. The teams have assessed each area and for the most part, tracks are the same but there have been some realignments. These are the better, more sustainable options with what we have to work with. Please don’t decide otherwise by creating new tracks and new cairns. Some follow up work will be done on these tracks in another couple of months when more regrowth has been established. Point to note: The Victoria Range has a strong indigenous cultural heritage content and all visitors should be aware of this and take due care and respect when visiting the area.

Due to the recent weather and rainfall, unfortunately much of the planned works by PV for the roads hasn’t eventuated and some of the roads and tracks are definitely bogworthy, so at this present time, roads are still closed. A small extra walk is all that is needed to access a couple of the cliffs. Others require a bit more motivation.

NOTE: In the case of Red Rocks, this access is the new access approach that was established before the fire. Do not cross the paddock – this is private property and no longer allowed. TEMPORARY (Due to road closures)- From the Henty Highway, take Andersons Road. Follow this all the way through to where it intersects with Red Rock Road. Park up here on Andersons Road not Red Rock Rd. This is closed so please respect this closure even though it may seem super easy to just park on it or drive a little way down. We are trying to establish some kind of road access but for now it is not possible.

Red Rocks Pinnacles
Mt Fox
Hollywood Bowl

Turn left and walk a short distance (150m) to a sandy track on the right. This track leads you to all of the above climbing areas and is the permanent access track after the road closures finish. Follow this track for approximately 500m to the intersection. Turn right. Another 70m will get you to the Mt Fox track(cairned) and a further 450m along will get you to the access track to Red Rocks area.
Emu Rock/Emu Cave
Muline and environs is as before (some track realignment) but will require a longer walk from Andersons road to get to the start of the access track.
Gallery/Buandik area – Track here has been cleared and re-established (no foot bridge) but with the road closures, you are going to need to be keen, as access at the current time is only by foot. A big walk. This area can be accessed by the Tower but this area is very wet and boggy at the moment, and we couldn’t get in to assess the track. Once road closures are lifted, I will provide further info on areas such as The Fortress, Chimney Pots and environs. Cliffs around the Camp of the Emu Foot Track will remain closed even after road closures are lifted. These areas were really badly burnt and need to recover. Please respect this.
Cheers, Tracey



Access & Environment Report August, 2013

For the second time, the scheduled workday for the Muline and Red Rocks area of the Victoria Ranges failed to eventuate. First one scheduled in June slowly lost its attendees until there wasn’t enough volunteers to efficiently do the work required on the day. On Saturday, 13th July, another workday event was planned. This time we had plenty of volunteers. With help from the guys at Vertical Life rounding up some bodies also and a number of the visiting international climbers putting up their hands, the day was set to be a success. Unfortunately, the email I sent to the weather gods got lost somewhere along the way. Having had a wonderful week of weather in the Wimmera, it was decided that Saturday would be a perfect day for a drop or two of rain. And the weather gods lost count.
I tried to remain optimistic whilst listening to the rain on our tin roof. I told myself it would pass. It was only when the radar screen was waved in front of my face that I needed to accept the fact. It was not going to pass anytime soon. So at the last hour, the frantic calls to intended volunteers took place and the workday was cancelled.

The perfect weather for a great workday. Not.

The perfect weather for a great workday. Not.

Media moguls can have flat batteries too. Who is that?

Media moguls can have flat batteries too. Who is that?


So, surely, third time will be lucky? At the time of writing this, I am working towards another day on the weekend of 3rd,4th August to mark and clear tracks in this area. And for the other repairs such as roads, there is a good chance that these will also be finished at the same time. Which means access to the cliffs in these areas will once again be happening. Discussions with PV on the weekend re access to climbing areas was very positive. As I mentioned above, the time frames are weather dependant so if we get a run of bad weather over the next few weeks this could extend the reopening dates. As it stands though, there is a good chance that we will be able to access the Muline/Red Rocks area and fingers crossed, the Gallery and Buandik area, around the start of August. There are a number of issues around the Gallery and Buandik that make it a little more involved when it comes to reopening the area but PV have been plugging away on a number of solutions that might make it possible to get some access happening. Access to the Fortress and Chimney Pots should not be long after that. All of the cliffs around the Cave of the Emu Foot track , will as previously mentioned earlier in the year, be closed for a lot longer. This was the worst of the burnt areas and needs to be allowed to recover by giving it time. So recapping:

Muline, Red Rocks area – start of August
Gallery/Buandik area – start of August
The Fortress. Chimney Pots – end August
Camp of Emu Foot Track area cliffs – minimum 1 year.

And lastly to round off the report. The Lookout area at the You Yangs is now open and ready for climbing business. The club ran a combined climb and rip up the boneseed trip on the 29th June and it was a great day. We pulled a huge amount of boneseed up in a short time and will look at managing this over the years. It grows ridiculously easy but also thank goodness, it pulls up ridiculously easy. Few pics on the before and after of the boneseed in this report and there are a few pics of the climbing elsewhere in Argus.

Boneseed has been removed

Boneseed has been removed

Access track to the Lookout

Access track to the Lookout

climbing sign at the Lookout

climbing sign at the Lookout

And not lastly, but finally – CliffCare has a new logo. Actually its first ever real logo and you will be seeing it around more and more.

Safe climbing and all that,

Cheers, Tracey

CliffCare logo colour








CliffCare logo social media

Access & Environment Report June 2013

The Lookout

The Lookout

The Lookout at the You Yangs has been closed to climbing for the last 25 years or so. The area was developed in the early 80’s by a number of climbers – David Clarke, Mike Wust, Mark Walters and there is also a route there by Kevin Lindorff. With a good selection of low to mid grade slab climbs, some low beginner routes and a 20 or two to get the heart thumping, it was definitely an area that would have proved to be popular in the You Yangs. With a large selection of higher grade routes in the park, an area that can cater for those climbers learning the ropes of slab climbing whilst providing good routes is a definite plus.
Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, climbing was banned at the Lookout in late 80s. At the time the structure at the Lookout was made of wood and quite old and its placement on the rock was not conducive to the climbers setting their anchors and top ropes from the structure legs. The structure itself was situated more forward than it is now so that climbers were climbing up directly under the Lookout and its visitors. There was also concern at the time that visitors might engage in the activities of the climbers.
Times have a-changed though -Following some discussions with Mark Urqhuart, ranger in charge at the You Yangs, the opportunity came up to look at the reasons why the Lookout was banned, its situation then and its situation now. Did it still need to be closed to climbing? Mark and his team at the You Yangs have been making great steps over the years to put the Youies solidly on the map as a great recreational park for a diverse range of users. Amongst the usual recreational visitors such as walkers, nature observers and picnickers, the park plays host to an awesome mountain bike track facility, horse riding trails and of course, our beloved climbing sites. All of these are encouraged, and engagement with the user groups have allowed the care and development of these areas to flourish, with the users taking an active role in site management.

The Lookout platform

The Lookout platform

The Lookout  was eventually rebuilt. Now made of seriously solid steel and sitting a bit further back on the cliff top, the whole structure is a lot more solid than it was in earlier years, and this, along with changing visitor demographic and a modern perspective of user groups and their leisure activities, were the main reasons why the fantastic decision was reached – that the ban on climbing at the Lookout would be lifted. Come July 1st  2013, The Lookout will now be open for climbing.

Gully access to Lookout climbing area

Gully access to Lookout climbing area


I will be providing route descriptions, access notes and fingers crossed, topos come the next Argus, but to let you know a few of the details.
The area will be open to individuals as well as commercial groups. Because of this, there will be four sets of double belays set across the buttress tops. This will provide monitored anchors for the commercial groups and will encourage climbers to use the fixed top protection rather than the structure legs. There will be small signage alerting climbers not to use the structure supports and there will also be some signage on the Lookout above alerting visitors to the fact that climbers are below so as to take care. An access track will be cleared and delineated approx. 8 metres west of the Lookout steps. This has been chosen as it is less steep and less prone to erosion. It then meets up with the small descent gully which will probably require a small amount of stabilization to handle the regular traffic that this area is sure to see.

Lookout climbing area base

Lookout climbing area base

Easy peasy access leads to a really nice flat area at the base which is treed. This will allow small groups of climbers to comfortably climb and relax in the area without too much impact to the surrounding environment. At the lookout area, there is currently a small length of fencing on either side of the steps parallel with the walking track. There will be an extension added onto this to limit access from the immediate lookout area. Where this ends will be the entrance to the climbers access track.
With regards to the fixed protection already on the routes, most of this is at least 25 years old, carrots and a variety of mild steel and stainless. After discussions with one of the FA’s of many of the routes, the advice was for all protection to be replaced and with best practice hardware and installation. This will mean that carrot bolts will not be replaced with carrot bolts. At this stage, no retrobolt on the routes is envisaged but there is still discussion occurring to ensure that for the most part, the wishes of the FA as well as present day climbing community is taken on board.
I am really excited about this area being reopened for climbing and very encouraged by the people that I have been working with at the park. Good vibes and good times ahead!

Big Rock & Flinders Peak, You Yangs. Change of Conditions/Reopens

DSC02974 (567x425)I have been working recently with Mark Urqhuart and his team at the You Yangs. The You Yangs really is shaping up to be a great recreational resource close to Melbourne. The park provides valuable space for a number of user groups to pursue their recreational activities. Besides the obvious walking, nature sights and picnic facilities, groups such as the horseriders, mountain bikers and us, the climbers can do what we love doing best. Following on from recent discussions please see the official announcement below regarding some great changes to a couple of areas at the You Yangs.
Parks Victoria has recently reviewed rock climbing arrangements at the You Yangs Regional Park. Through discussions with CliffCare, Licensed Tour Operators and park staff, a number of restrictions have been changed. These changes are consistent with the changes with the Parks’ usage, visitation and demand for recreational experiences, along with the absence of Peregrine Falcons from the east side of Flinders Peak for a number of years.

  • The Sunday and Public Holiday closures to climbers on Big Rock has been removed.
  • The permanent seasonal closure of sites on the east of Flinders Peak from August to November has been removed. A temporary closure of sites may be invoked if the birds return, with closures posted on site and within Argus.

Further changes to increased access are being investigated and will be posted in due course.


Mark Urquhart
Ranger in Charge – You Yangs & Serendip

Access and Environment Officer report June 2012

It does seem that every Argus report more recently I am rabbiting on about the latest working bee.  I know, same, same but different. Well I won’t be rabbiting on too much……but I do need to always thank the generous people who give up some of their time to help look after the cliff environments.  This time it was the You Yangs. Urinal Wall to be precise. With a grant that we were successful with in 2010 and then work postponed because of the floods and closures at the You Yangs, we have finally started the work. Contractors will be actually creating the small retaining wall at the base end of Royal Flush but we spent a couple of hours sourcing rocks from around the area to be used in the wall. With a small crew of 8 we waded through boneseed (gee, that plant was born to survive) and hunted for suitable sized rocks for the wall.  I did tell Mark Rippingale that his injured shoulders would be safe as the rocks we were sourcing didn’t need to be as big as the Pharos stock, but everytime I looked they seemed to have bigger and better rocks. Who was I to tell them to go smaller. Steve Toal and his partner Paula had rocked up earlier to get a few climbs in and brought along a haul bag.  Which I saw Paula using later, to great effect. As a backpack with rocks in it.
Mike Poore and his young family of two were there with chupa chups – as a reward for helping out.  Wilhem the two year old seemed determined to collect as much dirt as he could on the chupa chup. For a 2 year old he was putting on a pretty good show walking up and down the slightly steep track to the cliff base.
And true to form – the sun always shines at the You Yangs – it was a glorious day and at 11.00 the crew stopped and spent the rest of the day climbing. Perfect! Thanks to Ben Wright, Mark Rippingale, Michael Dowling,Josh Mills, Anthony Ulrich, Steve Toal and Paula, Mike Poore and future climbers Wilhelm and Mikayla. For more photos of the day, please visit out Smugmug site and check out the You Yangs gallery

Recently I was invited to join the Grampians and Surrounds Stakeholder Roundtable which meets about 4 times a year as a representative of recreational users and the climbing community. Below is a basic blurb about what the roundtables aims are. It is sponsored by PV and DSE. As you will read, it doesn’t formally influence the policies as such but can impact on the way that the policies may be administered. What I think will be really useful is being able to work with other usergroups on these issues and also being able to deal directly with those that our activities can sometimes impact on. I see this as a really positive move.
In order to truly represent the climbing community, it is important that I receive feedback from the climbing community.  Whilst I try at all times to keep an ear close to the ground when it comes to the thoughts and needs of climbers, please feel free to drop me a line.

Grampians Roundtable
The Grampians National Park and Surrounds Stakeholder Roundtable brings together a range of people who are interested in, or impacted by planned burning and other land management practices.
It aims to:

  • improve communication between stakeholders, land management agencies and the community
  • develop a shared understanding of complex land management issues, including fire management

The Roundtable does not formally influence government land management policy, but it can influence the way policies are put into practice.

You Yangs Work Day Saturday 12th May, 2012

There is a work day happening tomorrow at the You Yangs – Urinal Wall. Couple of hours in the morning sourcing and moving some rock to the Urinal Wall area to build the new rock retaining wall near the base end of Royal Flush. This will help to control further movement into the vegetation. With it being such a busy group climbing area, this section sees groups of people congregating there. While we won’t be building the wall itself we will be sourcing some rock from the area to be used in it.
Don’t be thinking huge arse Pharos gully kind of rocks – these will all be manageable.

Where: Urinal Wall area
When: 9.30 -12
Bring: backpack to carry rocks if possible and wear closed toe shoes

any enquiries:

For some pics on the You Yangs see here

Access & Environment Officer report March 2012

With the hot part of summer mostly out of the way, it was about time to slot in a few working bees. And as you will see, there are quite a few. I thought it best to look at the next 6 months or so and lock them into dates. As I noted in a previous Access report, Dave Roberts – acting Ranger in charge in the Grampians is keen for the climbers access tracks to be maintained by CliffCare and the climbing community. Besides repairing any damage to them as a result of a natural event be it fire or flood, the idea is also to check on a regular schedule, these tracks that we use to access the cliffs.  I am keen to get a few ‘custodians’ of various areas to report back to me each year on the state of climbers tracks in that particular area. Those that happen to frequent a particular cliff would make sense. If you would be happy to keep an eye on things at your favourite cliff, drop me a line please.

The You Yangs project – which we received a grant for in 2010 for early work in 2011 has now been locked in. Due to the floods, the park ended up being shut for a good part of the year so we were able to put the grant on hold until a more suitable time.  Some of the work we were originally going to do ended up being fixed due to further damage to the floods so after further consideration we have decided to work on a retaining wall at the Urinal Wall site.  This site is heavily used by groups as well as individuals and sees a huge amount of traffic. Standing area for people is getting progressively pushed further and further back into the vegetation. Using the same concept as the retaining walls at Summerday Valley, we will be constructing, with the help of a stonework contractor, a retaining stone wall that will stop further encroachment on the vegetation.

And now for dates for this years working bees.  I will be sending out reminders as each one approaches, but please, if you see any dates that suit, drop me a line.

Mt Arapiles Pharos Gully Project:
25th February 2012
28th April, 2012
9th June, 2012
18th August, 2012
pharos gully working bee

The Gallery, Grampians – access track repair
26th May, 2012

Mt Rosea, Grampians – access track repair
14th April, 2012

Rosea climbers track damage

Urinal Wall,You Yangs – retaining wall
12th May, 2012
You Yangs retaining wall site
Further information can be found on these work days on the VCC events calendar.

Cathedral Ranges logging season has begun again. Logging of the central pine block at Cooks Mill started this week. Two thirds of Cooks Mill sites are closed along with Little River track and St Bernards track.

There is also a  new track (Messmate track) linking Sugarloaf Saddle with Cooks Mill and  construction will being in March, with an aimed completion by Winter.  Volunteers will be needed for this project also so please contact me.  Although I haven’t scheduled a working bee for this as yet, I think it is something that would be good to have a climbers presence at.  Contact me for further details and hopefully I will have enough to put a group together.

Hope to hear from many of you soon!
Safe climbing,